Athens - Environmental campaign group ClientEarth has launched a legal challenge seeking to revoke a permit for two coal-fired power plants in Greece, one of which has yet to be built, it said on Monday. ClientEarth said it launched the action with the Greek branches of Greenpeace and the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) because Greece had failed to comply with Greek and European Union laws when renewing the permit. “Greece’s power plants have an abysmal track record of shaky permitting, which consistently fails to protect its citizens and the environment from the harmful effects of burning lignite”, ClientEarth lawyer Eleni Diamantopoulou said in a statement.
Greece is heavily reliant on coal and has extended until 2028 the permit for the existing Meliti I plant and the adjacent Meliti II plant, which has yet to be built, ClientEarth said. The group says Greece did not carry out an environmental impact assessment (EIA) on the plants’ impact on health, the environment and the climate, breaching EU and Greek laws. “Once Meliti II is constructed, it will only amplify these effects currently intoxicating the region,” Diamantopoulou said. The Greek energy ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Public Power Corp. (PPC), majority-owned by the state, agreed to sell Meliti I and the licence to build Meliti II under the country’s final international bailout, which ended in August. After a European court ruling saying PPC had abused its dominant position in the coal market, PPC shortlisted six investors interested in the Meliti plants, as well as another two it is selling in southern Greece. It expects binding bids in early November.
Greece has signed the Paris climate pact which targets a cut of at least 40 percent in carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions by 2030. Energy Minister George Stathakis told Greek radio on Monday the government would publish next month its national energy plan in which coal’s share in the energy mix would gradually drop. PPC has said Greece will depend on coal-fired power for at least another 15 to 20 years until the country has well-established renewable energy sources.